Archive: September 20th, 2007

Mets Game 152: Loss to Marlins

Marlins 8 Mets 7

The assumption was that if the Mets could jump out to an early lead, the Marlins would go to the fish tank and roll over. And the Mets did hit the scoreboard first, thanks to a two-run double by Moises Alou in the initial inning and a David Wright double that drove in Jose Reyes in the second.

However, Tom Glavine did not have his best stuff. In fact, he was borderline terrible. But somehow, he worked out of trouble in each of the first four innings without damage. Finally, he ran out of gas in the fifth, allowing four runs — three of them via a homerun by Miguel Cabrera. Through five, Glavine allowed 4 runs on 11 hits and a walk.

After the second, the Mets couldn’t reach home against Dontrelle Willis, who struggled nearly as mightily as Glavine, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk through six.

The Marlins bullpen took over in the seventh, but the Mets couldn’t do anything against them. The New York offense put together an awful set of at-bats in the seventh — with Jose Reyes and Lastings Milledge swinging at bad pitches — and repeated with more atrocious at-bats in the eighth. Only David Wright and Moises Alou looked like they had a clue — everyone else went up to the plate like it was their first MLB at-bat and Sandy Koufax was on the mound.

In the ninth, Paul LoDuca led off with a double through the right-center gap, and was replaced on second base by Carlos Gomez. Ruben Gotay screwed up two sacrifice attempts, then bounced a grounder to shortstop. The speedy Gomez took off for third — in my mind a TERRIBLE baserunning blunder — but somehow beat the throw from Hanley Ramirez to third. With runners on the corners, hot-hitting Shawn Green (who looked so full of confidence he might burst) walked on four pitches, loading the bases for Jose Reyes. Naturally, Reyes took a terrible cut on the first pitch — a curveball in the dirt — for strike one. Keeping with his current M.O., he waved wildly at the second pitch, a slider in the dirt. Predictably, he swung through a third slider in the dirt for strike three. Marlon Anderson was paying attention, however, and took the first two pitches — making it a dozen consecutive pitches thrown out of the strike zone by closer Kevin Gregg. The next two pitches were over the middle, however, and Anderson swung through them. Anderson then took ball three, filling the count with the bases filled as well. Gregg’s next pitch was blasted off the right-center fence, clearing the bases and landing SuperMarlon on third (he missed the Mets’ first grand slam of the year by about five feet). David Wright was retired for the first time all night for out number two, but Carlos Beltran FINALLY came through with a two-out RBI, putting the Mets up by three.

But where was Billy Wagner to close it out? Pedro Feliciano started the bottom of the ninth, gave up a single to leadoff hitter Jeremy Hermida, and was replaced by Jorge Sosa. Sosa promptly allowed a double to “All World” Cabrera, putting runners on second and third. And where was Wagner? Both runners scored on grounders as the Mets were trading runs for outs, but the second out was not to be as David Wright — who made a fine diving stop — threw the ball away (this proved to be a crucial error). It was then one out, man on first, and a one-run game — and where was Wagner? The next batter, Cody Ross, worked the count full before dropping a Texas Leaguer two inches inside the leftfield foul line for a double. This put runners on second and third with one out, and down by one run (where was … oh, never mind!). Matt Treanor bounced a grounder to Jose Reyes for the second out, but the tying run scored in the process. Jason Wood popped up for the third out, but the damage was done. Meantime, the scoreboard flashed the final score in D.C. — Phillies 7 Nats 6.

The Mets couldn’t do anything with a leadoff walk by Jeff Conine in the 10th, but the Fish had no problems in the bottom of the frame. Hanley Ramirez led off with a broken-bat, infield single that bounced about fifty times before reaching Reyes at short. At that point, it was only a matter of time, with Cabrera due up eventually. However, the game didn’t have to go that long, as Dan Uggla — instead of bunting Ramirez to second — blasted a ball off the leftfield wall, scoring Ramirez from first.

Phillies are back within one and a half games.


What a waste of another ENORMOUS, dramatic, hugely clutch hit by Marlon Anderson.

Milledge was started off with a sharp curve on the outside corner of the plate in his seventh inning at-bat, and barked at home plate ump Jim Joyce when it was (correctly) called a strike. Milledge clearly lost his focus, and popped up the next pitch — a fastball around his eyes. The flyout ended the inning, but Milledge kept running his mouth at Joyce (not quoting Ulysses, I’m sure) and was tossed from the game. Unbelievably, Milledge exited the dugout to run back on the field and argue two more times in the next five minutes — which no doubt will earn him a suspension. His loss of control was aggravating on several levels. First of all, the pitch in question was definitely a strike. Second, a youngster such as Milledge should keep quiet the first few years in the league — otherwise be labeled quickly around the circuit as a troublemaker (and invite unfavorable calls from all umps). Third, his tirade was inappropriate for someone who has been with the team for less than three months. Rather than inspire his teammates, Milledge embarrassed them, and as a result he likely has lost a bit of the respect he had started to gain from his peers. A shame, really, because LMillz was starting to shed that “bad boy” image.

Florida pounded out 20 hits, while the Mets managed only nine — three of them by David Wright (two of them doubles).

Alou’s two-run double extended his hitting streak to 24 games.

After Cabrera’s blast, the SNY cameras showed him getting congratulated in the dugout by a little kid who I thought might be someone’s 13-year-old brother or the ball boy. It turned out to be Alfredo Amezaga — who with his new mop-top doo looks too young for PONY League.

When is someone going to tell Ruben Gotay to hit lefty all the time — even against lefties?

Both Gotay and Gomez failed miserably — and looked terrible — in their sacrifice bunt attempts. A ballplayer who cannot drop a bunt has only himself to blame — it doesn’t take any special skill, only the desire to be good at it and the willingness to put in the repetitions in practice. Shame on both non-sluggers for not being better sacrifice bunters.

Next Game

The Mets and Marlins do it again at 7:05 PM. Pedro Martinez takes the mound against Scott Olsen. Pedro is right at home in the Miami heat and humidity, a point that may fuel his continued hot pitching.


10 Questions: Florida Marlins

Florida Marlins pitcher Dontrelle It’s been a month since the Marlins took two of three from the Mets in Shea, and the Mets haven’t been to Miami since May (wow, where did the time go?). For Marlins fans, it’s been a foregone conclusion that the postseason was a pipe dream for quite some time — but the Fish suddenly find themselves in perfect position to play the role of spoilers. While they may not participate in the postseason, the Marlins may very well influence who does. It all begins with a four-game set in Florida starting tonight, before hosting the first-place Cubs for a three-game series, until finally finishing the season with another three at Shea.

To get an inside feel for what’s going on with the Fish, we’ve once again called on Craig at the FishStripes blog to provide us with perspective from the Marlins’ point of view.

1. What’s up with D-Train? Are his troubles due to something mental, mechanical, or do you think there’s a hidden injury?

It’s part mechanical and part mental but not in the way you think. The Marlins pitching coach came up with the “brilliant” idea that if Willis change his delivery and threw his pitches slower he could get more movement. So instead of throwing his fastball in the 90’s he is throwing it in the mid 80’s.

This experiment has been a complete disaster. His pitches do have more movement but he doesn’t have any command of them. If you watch him tonight, watch his delivery, it is not the same as it was in the past. You will get to see the new calmed down version which has all of the scouts aghast and wanting him to speed up his motion again.

In order to go against his tendencies to pitch with high a high energy delivery, he will be out on the mound trying to remind himself to slow down. If Treanor is catching he will try to speed Willis up which usually results in the pitching coach visiting the mound and Treanor and the coach getting into an argument as Dontrelle just stands there. It is quite a sight.

2. The Marlins weren’t playoff-bound as of September, so we’ll guess they’re having some auditions this month. Any suprises? Any youngsters to keep an eye on for the future?

No surprises at this point since but everyone is getting some playing time. I guess Gaby Hernandez, former Mets prospect, is the one to keep an eye on. He will be coming out of the pen.

3. How are the hometown fans responding to the spoiler role? Is the interest still there, or are people into the Dolphins now?

Considering the Marlins made news by having only 275 fans in the stadium for a game against the Nationals, I think it is safe to say that the Dolphins are getting most of the attention.

4. The press seems to think the best shortstop in the NL East is between Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes — yet from my perspective it looks like Hanley Ramirez is the top dog. Do you think he’s reached his ceiling, or do you believe there’s even more to come in the next few years?

Ramirez isn’t even close to his ceiling. Hanley is only 23 years-old and is still in the process of learning the game. Assuming he stays healthy, he will become one of the perennial top hitters in the league for years. But whether or not he will be playing shortstop at that time should be interesting. If he can’t get the errors in check he may be outfield bound. Also he isn’t long for the leadoff spot due to his power.

5. Jeremy Hermida seems to have made some strides after injury issues earlier this year. He appears to have a world of talent — do you agree, and what is holding him back?

The Marlins chose Hermida in the first round of the 2002 draft instead of Scott Kazmir. And given that one of the strengths of the organization is identifying young pitching prospects, yeah, I would agree he has a world of talent. Last season Hermida battled nagging injuries for much of the season and the first half of this year was more of the same. Also there was the facing Major League pitchers adjustment period. But after the All Star break everything started to click and Hermida has a .322 BA along with a .962 OPS during that time period. His defensive play is still a work in progress.

6. Armando Benitez, Jorge Julio, and now Marcos Carvajal. Haven’t you learned yet that former Mets who throw in the mid-90s are disasters waiting to happen?

Apparently not. But in defense of the Carvajal acquisition, he is still young and it is possible he can be taught pitch control. If not, he will rightly join the other two as having stuff but having no idea where the pitch is going to end up.

7. Speaking of, what’s going on with Henry Owens? How do he and Matt Lindstrom fit into the ’08 plans?

Owens had shoulder surgery basically at the first of September. He is presently in a 6-month no-throw period so when he rejoins the next season it will probably around the All-Star break. I do believe Owens may be the closer of the future but all that depends on how he recovers from surgery. I don’t really expect him to add very much until the 2009 season.

Lindstrom is still learning to pitch and doing well. He will be the Marlins bullpen in 2008 and mainly used as a late innings guy.

8. Scott Olsen: great talent, two-cent head. Is he a Marlin in 2008?

Yes, I most definitely think he will be. Olsen is actually very well liked by his teammates. When the club has a charity event, a “meet-the-players” function for the fans at some South Florida shopping mall or an outing like the team’s recent visit to Walter Reed Hospital, Scott is always there. If you were a Marlin and called all of your teammates to help you move, Olsen would be the one to show up. His problem is that his emotions get the better of him on occasions. But he is working on that. If he can get his emotions in check and continue to develop his pitching skills, he is going to be a good one.

9. It’s really hard to look at all that young talent on the Marlins roster and not think their time will come. How is the outlook and optimism among Fish fans?

Hard to say. Some believe next year is our year but I don’t agree. Next season will still probably be a pitching nightmare though not as bad as this season. Josh Johnson will be out for all of 2008 and it is possible that Anibal Sanchez will too. Owens may rejoin the pen or may not. Sergio Mitre has thrown over 100 more innings than he did last year and who knows how he will respond next season. Not to mention the pitching coach is messing with the team’s lefty starters.

Sure, the offense will be there and hopefully the defense will improve with another of maturity, but you just can’t slug your way to a World Series win.

My guess is that 2009 will be the year of the Marlin and when the Marlins go to playoffs we expect to win it all. The Marlins have the talent to do it, the real question is whether they can get everyone back to full speed and keep them healthy.

10. What moves — if any — do the Marlins need to make this offseason? Does Cabrera get locked up or dealt away?

I really don’t see the Marlins making any major moves in the offseason. Oh, the team is still trying to find a solution to center field but it is possible it will be addressed in-house. Also, the Marlins probably won’t re-sign Miguel Olivo and will need to find another catcher but they may also handle that within the organization. The Marlins don’t have a lot of money to throw at free agents so major moves aren’t likely.

Cabrera will be with Marlins next season. He will not be signed to a long-term contract, because no one gets a long-term contract until the franchise has a stadium. Welcome to small market baseball.

Thanks again to Craig for those extremely insightful responses (the Dontrelle Willis situation sounds a LOT like a lefty we know who was mishandled in Pittsburgh, eh?). Be sure to visit FishStripes for more great info on the Florida Marlins.


Number Nine

New York Mets catcher J.C. MartinWith the Mets’ magic number whittled to nine, I had a hard time finding an appropriate Met to honor — mostly because I always hated the best candidate, Todd Hundley. (Hey, it’s my blog, and if I don’t want to honor a brash and boozing malcontent who smoked cigarettes in the dugout and DIDN’T play on the ’86 Mets, I have that right.)

After Hundley, the pickings are slim. Todd Zeile wore number 9 for a while, but not long enough to be honored with it, and many remember him as #27 (my rules are vague and illogical, and kind of like the whiffle ball rules at your friend’s house — I make them up as I go along). Ty Wigginton would be a no-brainer if he’d played more than two years with the club. Gregg Jefferies wore number nine, and I hated him less than Hundley, but there was so much negativity surrounding him after so much hoopla, it didn’t feel right. Then there’s Joe Torre … can you imagine if I honored the Yankee manager on a Mets blog — even if he was adorned in orange and blue?

The best of the rest are the forgettable Jerry Martin, Ronn Reynolds, Jim Hickman (who wore at least two other numbers, if I recall correctly) and Mark Bradley. I finally settled on the little-used caddy to Jerry Grote, backup catcher J.C. Martin — for no other reason than the “interference incident” that won Game Four of the 1969 World Series.

It was the tenth inning, all tied, and Grote led off the inning with a double off Oriole reliever Pete Richert. Rod Gaspar was sent in to pinch-run and pitcher Tom Seaver was due up. Manager Gil Hodges called Seaver back and replaced him with Martin (who would be catching for Grote if the inning didn’t end) to bunt Gaspar to third. Martin bunted back toward the mound, and Richert picked it up and threw to first. Martin, however, was running a few feet inside the baseline and the ball ricocheted off his arm and into rightfield, allowing Gaspar to score and the Mets to go up 3-1 in the Series. Baltimore manager Earl Weaver argued that Martin was illegally inside the baseline to no avail — umpire Shag Crawford ruled that Martin had not intentionally deflected the ball and the play stood.

Other than that moment in Mets history, Martin’s career was relatively nondescript — a journeyman bench player who spent 14 big-league seasons filling in behind the plate and at the infield corners. He did earn the dubious achievement of 33 passed balls in 1965 (an MLB record held until 1987), but not because he had awful hands — rather, he was the designated catcher for knuckleballers Hoyt Wilhelm and Eddie Fisher.

Joseph Clifton Martin finished his career in 1972 with a .222 career batting average in 908 MLB games.


Number Ten

The number ten has been on the back of players as diverse as Duffy Dyer, Ken Henderson, Kelvin Chapman, Butch Huskey, David Segui, Jeff Duncan, Joe Hietpas, Rey Sanchez, and Shingo Takatsu — among others. Today, of course, it’s worn by “Legendary” Endy Chavez.

Mets Hot Rod Kanehl baseball cardBut our “magic” posts honor only Mets heroes from the past, so Endy isn’t eligible. I had to give at least some consideration to (shudder) Rey Ordonez, but decided that a.) his bad times outweighed the good times; and b.) his inability to decide between #10 and #0 throughout his career had to be held against him (who would ever WANT to be a zero?). That said, it came down to “Hot” Rod Kanehl and Rusty Staub. Rusty would have won in a landslide, but his most memorable Mets years came while wearing #4 — specifically, in 1973. And hopefully we’ll get down to that number and honor Rusty at that time.

Long before there was “A-Rod” or “K-Rod”, there was “Hot Rod”.

Roderick Edwin Kanehl was an original Met, and one of the first fan favorites adorning the orange and blue. He scored the winning run in the Mets’ first home victory at the Polo Grounds, and hit the first grand-slam in Mets history (also at the Polo Grounds) on July 6, 1962. But he wasn’t known for his power — he hit a grand total of 6 homers in 796 career MLB at-bats. Kanehl was a career minor leaguer, a journeyman who didn’t have any one particular skill that could be graded as “Major League”. However, his all-out hustle and lack of fear when it came to outfield walls endeared him to the hometown fans — and won him a job on the Mets’ bench. In his three-year career with the Mets, Kanehl played every position on the field other than pitcher and catcher for manager Casey Stengel, and never left a game without dirt on his uniform. Stengel loved Kanehl’s enthusiasm, team-first attitude, and determination, and had to fight with GM George Weiss to keep the light-hitting utilityman on the roster.

As told by Leonard Shecter in “Once Upon the Polo Grounds,” Stengel had related the following debate concerning Kanehl: “Weiss says, ‘I ain’t seen him do anything in the field.’ So I said, ‘You’re full of baloney, he can run the bases.’ ”

Kanehl paid back the loyalty in 1975, when he was the only former Met to attend Stengel’s funeral.

After his playing career, Kanehl couldn’t find a job in baseball, which miffed him. As he told Sports Illustrated: “I thought there would always be room for a guy who knows the game and has some intelligence. I know the game from underneath. I know what goes on in the mind of a mediocre ballplayer. I know what it’s like to be a bad hitter. I know what it’s like to have to battle every time you go up to the plate.”